On September 18, 2018, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally announced that they were considering a formal rule change to deregulate emerald ash borer (EAB) at the federal level. A comment period regarding the proposal was opened through November 19, 2018. However, as of February 11, 2019, no final decision or timeline has been announced.

Since 2009, EAB has been regulated in Minnesota cooperatively by the MDA and USDA, with the USDA regulating interstate (across state boundaries) movement and the MDA regulating intrastate (within Minnesota) movement. In the event that USDA proceeds with federal deregulation of EAB, the MDA began discussions with partners and stakeholders to identify concerns regarding three possible alternatives to federal deregulation:

  • Attempt to maintain the same regulatory program with MDA stepping into the role vacated by USDA (regulating interstate movement into and out of Minnesota)
  • Create a new regulatory program for Minnesota
  • Deregulate at the state level

From September 2018 through January 2019, the MDA spoke with the following groups:

  • USDA APHIS
  • USDA Forest Service, State and Private
  • Chippewa National Forest
  • Superior National Forest
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of Transportation
  • League of Minnesota Cities
  • Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association
  • Minnesota Forest Resources Council
  • Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • 1854 Treaty Authority
  • Association of County Land Commissioners
  • Minnesota Forest Industries

In general, we heard the following from these partners:

  • Most thought that EAB regulations should continue in Minnesota.
  • Some thought the program should continue as is, but most thought some change may be helpful. Land managers are concerned about forest management for stands containing significant amounts of ash.
  • Local governments are concerned about how to handle the amounts of ash wood that will continue to be generated.

Based on our experience with EAB and discussions with partners, the MDA is proposing changes to the EAB regulatory program if the USDA proceeds with federal deregulation.

The formal text for the proposed regulations can be found here. In summary, the regulations would:

  • Have the MDA create an exterior quarantine for EAB and replace USDA in regulating movement in and out of Minnesota
  • Modify the regulations to  regulate only ash firewood, and not all hardwood firewood
  • Deregulate articles en route to a designated processing facility so that permits are not needed to move this material

The MDA has proposed the following timeline for review of these proposed regulations:

  • February 11, 2019 – MDA announced proposed changes to EAB regulations and a comment period begins

    • Send comments to: Mark.Abrahamson@state.mn.us or
      Mark Abrahamson
      Minnesota Department of Agriculture
      625 Robert Street North
      St Paul, MN 55155
  • March 22, 2019 – Comment period ends
  • March 29, 2019 – The MDA announces final plan for EAB regulations
  • The revised regulations will only be implemented if federal deregulation goes forward.